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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Disciples

Maybe I should have disciples? Maybe one of my problems is the lack of them. When I've directed dissertations, or been on committees, the students have not been my intellectual followers. They haven't done the kind of scholarship that I myself do or advocate. I have had to deal with that, very maturely I might add. I never held that against any student. Some of the students have actually been good and turned out ok. Yet I feel I have so much more to offer. It's not that I want to tell students what to do, or have little Mayhews running around in the field. I just think something I am doing should rub off on the graduate students in a little more direct way. I'm going to have to think about that. Is it that I am unassertive? That I don't want to be imposing my own views on those who would rather do a more standard form of criticism? It is good that I am so tolerant of approaches that I think are not that relevant, but on the other hand, shouldn't I be a little less tolerant?

4 comments:

Clarissa said...

The word "disciple" has a sort of a religious feel to it for me. I'm not sure I would have wanted to be anybody's disciple at any stage. I feel like being a disciple is different from having a mentor. It implies a degree of unquestioning, worshiping acceptance, and that isn't very good for one's intellectual development.

Is it really important to have the people you mentor do the kind of scholarship you do? What if your influence on them lies more in the quality of their writing and the general approach to their scholarly careers?

Jonathan said...

Sure, that kind of indirect influence is fine too, although I feel I don't have enough of that either! What gets tricky is when I have to mentor only in this indirect way. A lot of other people have people writing dissertations with them that are "more or less" consonant with their own critical approaches. I tend to get accidental students, who end up working with me for the wrong reasons. Or at least not the right ones. I feel constrained.

Olga Bezhanova said...

I believe that the MA dissertation is the best stage in one's development to write in such a close interaction with the thesis director. Of course, there are hardly any people in the US who do an actual MA before going on to do the PhD. And that is a shame, especially since so many undergrad programs do not offer a sufficient base for a PhD in the discipline.

profacero said...

I have tons of undergraduate disciples and don't mind because they will do something of their own later, but in graduate school I try to get them to do work they would do, not work I would do.